London Temple Place
Swissôtel The Howard
The new launch of TLSee (tea, London, sightseeing) at the Swissôtel The Howard allows you to indulge in traditional afternoon tea whilst dunking and nibbling your way through London’s most iconic sights.
The setting of our quintessential British excuse to eat way too many cakes during the middle of the day, is the contemporary Mauve Lounge at the front of the Swissôtel The Howard. The décor is an eclectic mix of classical plasterwork, aubergine silk-velvet chairs, Merano glass lamps, marble columns and swirling purple light designs on the walls. It’s not your typical grandiose tea room, but it serves as a more relaxed and modern backdrop to an afternoon tea.
We opt for the traditional afternoon tea for £28, which includes a glass of Alain Thienot champagne, a choice of Twinings teas, a mini strawberry smoothie, savoury finger sandwiches, home-baked scones (with the works), five patisseries and then the finale square plate, mapping London’s sights and monuments in the form of shortbreads and chocolates. The sandwiches are soft and delicately filled with the customary ingredients of cream cheese, cucumbers, ham and smoked salmon. They suitably wake up our palates in time for the lashings of thick Devonshire clotted cream that we heap on to two types of scone; fruit and plain. Both of them are fluffy and light rather than stodgy and heavy, allowing us to easily finish off both. I decide there and then that there’s no doubt about it, scones with clotted cream and jam will have to feature in my ‘last meal’ on earth.
I decide to take a break before starting on the cakes, but of course it’s impossible with them all beckoning me saying ‘eat me’, ‘eat me’. So I sink my teeth into a lovely chocolate and orange jelly mousse. Then I tackle a moist raspberry financier, strawberry macaroon and lightly spiced fruit cake. I tentatively look over to the plate of London sights, hoping that my gunpowder green tea will hurry up and speed up my metabolism so I can nibble on some crown jewels, bite into Big Ben and dunk Tower Bridge in my friend’s Earl Grey. Unfortunately it doesn’t and I only manage to break off small chunks from a few edible sights, resulting in the delectable landscape of London looking now like it’s been attacked by King Kong. Highlights include a dark chocolate Big Ben filled with a thick raspberry ganache, a white chocolate St Paul’s Cathedral filled with marzipan and a red ginger shortbread post box. Our waitress happily places the rest of the monuments into a box for us to take away and tells us “Most people can’t finish everything, except for the Japanese. Because they sit here for four or five hours and take their time eating”.
So if you want to indulge in an afternoon of tea time extravagance and take a tour of London, devouring all the sights you see, then the Swissôtel The Howard is for you – just remember to follow the lead of the Japanese and try to stretch the indulgence to a good four hours at least.
Full afternoon tea with a glass of champagne costs £28 per person.
Reviewer: Leila Sarraf